5 Lessons Learned from a Summer of Missions

By the Internship Department

Every year over 150 college-aged students commit their summer to furthering the Kingdom through leading week long mission trips for 9 weeks. One thing we can promise to our summer staff is that they will learn a lot through this unique and life changing experience.

Here are five of the biggest lessons you can expect to learn from doing a summer of missions:

1. Everyone has a story

One of the coolest things about spending your summer doing missions, is the amount of people you get to serve alongside during the summer. Each week you meet different youth pastors, trip chaperones, high school and middle school students. You get to serve alongside homeowners and community leaders on a daily basis; all while working with a team of amazing individuals. That is a lot of people, and a lot of stories. Taking time to learn about and listen to others shapes our understanding of true community, and is an incredible opportunity to see people as Jesus does. Spending your summer building relationships through doing mission work teaches you to celebrate differences and seek similarities between others, no matter the background, past suffering, or gift someone might be bringing with them.  

2. Growth is found outside your comfort zone

Spending your summer serving in missions is not comfortable. You will live in an unfamiliar community, working with many people who are different from you, and doing things you have never done before; like building houses, or working with a community experiencing homelessness. When we leave what is comfortable to us and step into discomfort, we are shaped and challenged to adapt and grow. If we stay comfortable, we risk growing stagnant. Spending your summer serving in missions can be scary, but it might be just what God is calling you to do in order to step outside your comfort zone and grow into the person He has created you to be. 

3. You aren’t as strong as you think you are

Mission work is incredibly rewarding, but it’s by no means easy. Serving long hours while not getting much sleep teaches you something incredibly beautiful: what it truly means to rely on the Lord. Without God, our ministry would fail. We rely on His wisdom, His grace, His mercy, His kindness, and His strength each and every day. Big things happen when we surrender to the Lord and humbly accept that we are weak and He is strong. 

4. You can be a problem finder, or a problem solver

If you have ever been on a mission trip before, you have learned to expect the unexpected. Problems do come up. A tire goes flat, you burn the lasagna, the sound equipment stops working, it starts thunder-storming when you were planning on roofing, the list goes on and on. When working on a team, you learn that you can either be someone who points out problems and stops at that, or you can be someone who anticipates, sees, and solves problems. Spending your summer serving in missions teaches you to creatively use resources, how to be proactive to avoid problems, and what it means to finding joy in the obstacles that come up. 

5. Your life is a mission

A summer serving in missions changes how you view your life. The work you do during the summer does not end as the mission experience comes to an end. Your days may not look the same; you’re not building wheelchair ramps, and serving with trip participants. You might not be leading worship each night in a community, but you do take all that you learned from a summer and return home with a brand new outlook. You gain an understanding that God is not meant to fit in a box, but instead He is in everything we do. You return home and now see purpose and mission behind your life as a whole. You begin to see things as Jesus does. You have new vision for opportunities to share Christ with others. You begin to see setbacks and obstacles as ways to grow closer to God in your trust and faith. You begin to see the Gospel in places you haven’t before, and you come home with a new passion to live your life for the Lord in all that you do.

If you are interested in learning more about what it looks like to spend your summer serving in missions click here!

Next Step Ministries